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Greek officers offended and puzzled after UK’s Sunak scraps leaders’ assembly over Parthenon Marbles

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LONDON — Greek officers stated Tuesday that they may proceed talks with the British Museum about bringing the Parthenon Marbles again to Athens, regardless of U.Okay. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak canceling a gathering together with his Greek counterpart the place the contested antiquities have been on account of be mentioned.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis deliberate to lift Greece’s decades-old demand for the return of the traditional sculptures when he met Sunak at 10 Downing St. on Tuesday. The 2 center-right leaders have been additionally slated to speak about migration, local weather change and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

Sunak known as off the assembly hours earlier than it was on account of happen, sparking a diplomatic row between the 2 European allies. Mitsotakis was as an alternative provided a gathering with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, which he declined.

British officers gave no purpose for the cancellation, however they have been irritated that Mitsotakis had appeared on British tv Sunday and in contrast the elimination of the sculptures from Athens to reducing the Mona Lisa in half.

Dimitris Tsiodras, head of the Greek prime minister’s press workplace, stated Mitostakis was offended on the “British misstep.”

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“After all he was offended … Look, Greece is a proud nation. It has a protracted historical past. Mitsotakis represents that nation,” Tsiodras instructed non-public community Mega tv.

Greek left-wing opposition chief Stefanos Kasselakis additionally stated Sunak’s motion was unacceptable.

“The case of the Parthenon Sculptures is a matter that goes past the Greek Prime Minister as a person and past social gathering variations,” he wrote on X, previously often known as Twitter. “It’s a nationwide subject that issues the historical past of a whole individuals. And it’s a ethical subject regarding the shameless theft of cultural wealth from its pure setting.”

Athens has lengthy demanded the return of sculptures that have been faraway from Greece by British diplomat Lord Elgin within the early nineteenth century. A part of friezes that adorned the two,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, the Elgin Marbles – as they’re recognized in Britain — have been displayed on the British Museum in London for greater than two centuries. The rest of the friezes are in a purpose-built museum in Athens.

The British Museum is banned by legislation from giving the sculptures again to Greece, however its leaders have held talks with Greek officers a couple of compromise, corresponding to a long-term mortgage.

Earlier this yr, museum chairman George Osborne — Treasury chief in a earlier Conservative U.Okay. authorities — stated the discussions had been “constructive.”

Tsiodras stated Tuesday that discussions “are ongoing with the British Museum for the return – I ought to say the reunification – of the marbles to Athens.”

“I don’t suppose the trouble stops there,” he stated. “Clearly, there are home causes and 2024 is an election yr and (Sunak) is kind of behind within the polls… however the dialogue with the British Museum is ongoing.”

Sunak’s authorities seems to have hardened its place, nevertheless.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper stated that “the federal government set out its place in regards to the Elgin Marbles very clearly, which is they need to keep as a part of the everlasting assortment of the British Museum.”


Gatopoulos reported from Athens, Greece.

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